Drone delivery companies, known for transporting medicines such as blood and vaccines, are anxious for new directions.
Wingcopter, a drone delivery company headquartered in the suburbs of Frankfurt, Germany, announced a $ 42 million Series A expansion on Tuesday. This will help the company move beyond the delivery of medical drones to categories such as groceries.
With this expansion, Wingcopter’s total capital raising has more than tripled to over $ 60 million, attracting interesting investors. Most notable is Germany’s Rewe Group, one of Germany’s largest grocery retailers with 12,000 stores throughout Europe.
Others included salvia and XAI Technologies, which are disruptive technology investors, and Itochu, Japan, a trading company that gives Wingcopter a foothold in the Japanese market.
At the time of the salary increase, Wingcopter was active primarily in sub-Saharan Africa, delivering medicines to rural areas. But with new investors from Europe and Asia, the company is showing more ambition.
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“At Wingcopter, we create efficient and sustainable drone solutions to save and improve lives. To this end, we employ a passionate pioneer in building things that never existed before. “We do,” said Tom Plümmer, co-founder and CEO of Wingcopter. “New funding and increased revenue put us in a good position to establish industry-leading drone delivery solutions with customers around the world to optimize our supply chain.”
Wingcopter not only plans to expand globally, but also plans to use new funds to increase production of its flagship product, the Wingcopter 198 drone. According to the company, most production quotas this year and next year are already on sale, and German production facilities are expected to produce “thousands” of drones annually. He added that production will soon be partially automated.
The Wingcopter 198 is optimized for freight flights and is designed to carry a payload of up to 13 pounds over a range of approximately 68 miles. Equipped with a vertical takeoff and landing VTOL function, it can fly even in heavy rain and strong winds.
Drones that deliver items such as groceries are usually smaller and more agile. Wingcopter will receive new funding to enhance research and development of new product features, but it is unclear whether the Wingcopter 198 will be redesigned or built entirely new.
The company also plans to hire 80 employees in all departments over the next few months.
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Wingcopter has gained considerable momentum in recent months. In May, the FAA secured the long-awaited special class airworthiness standard. This is a major step towards the rollout of commercial distribution in the United States and could have a positive impact on the company’s other certification activities, such as in Brazil and Japan.
Just a week later, the company signed a contract with Continental Drone to deploy 12,000 Wingcopter 198 aircraft across its sub-Saharan African network. The process takes about 5 years. But if it ends today, Wingcopter’s network will be the largest commercial drone deployment in history.
Part of the new money goes to that network. Wingcopter said it plans to add more drones and hubs to its business in Malawi, which provides pharmaceuticals from 2019. These services reach more than 115,000 people in the region.
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